Lesson #4: Extractions

Sara Walton, PhD candidate at UMaine is separating the hemicellulose component of hardwood to produce a source of sugars for fermentation to ethanol. Sara.walton@umit.maine.eduThe “New Biotechnology” in Maine—Maintaining Our Sense of Place in the World

The essential questions that underlie this activity are:

What role has biotechnology historically played in Maine’s forest?
How is the “new biotechnology” allowing us to maintain our traditional sense of place in Maine,within an ever-changing, globalized world?
What role has biotechnology historically played in Maine’s forest?
How is the “new biotechnology” allowing us to maintain our traditional sense of place in Maine, within an ever-changing, globalized world?

Throughout history, Maine’s forest has been a bountiful source of important resources.  As we enter the twenty-first century, we find patterns of forest land ownership and land use as well as traditional products and markets changing, seemingly right before our eyes.  Extensive tracts within private, industrial land-holdings have been transferred to multiple, non-industrial owners, and mills that have employed Maine’s citizens for over a century have contracted or even shut down with the diminished demand for products that may be manufactured less expensively in other parts of the world.  

These profound changes to Maine’s forest products industry are fueling innovation, resulting in the introduction of new bioproducts that hold out the promise of a sustainable economy for rural Maine.  Opportunities are being created through the Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative (FBRI) by using available resources to make higher-value end-products.

Our ability to hold onto that sense of place we call “The Maine Woods” will depend in large measure on these innovative developments in an industry that has served us well through the ages.  

In terms of science discipline, Lesson #4 focuses on the biological and chemical aspects of FBRI, supporting an understanding of processes of extracting and producing products.   Students will discuss the requirements of a microorganism and observe/compare its ability to process different sugars; they will read to learn more about sugars in order to understand the challenges being faced by FBRI scientists; they will research some traditional uses of wood extracts in Maine; and finally, they will analyze (compare and contrast) traditional and modern extraction procedures in order to synthesize their thinking about the promise that FBRI’s biotechnology brings to Maine’s future.  A pre-requisite to this lesson is Lesson #2 (“What is the Forest Bioproducts Research Initiative (FBRI)?”).

Photo: Sara Walton, PhD candidate at UMaine is separating the hemicellulose component of hardwood to produce a source of sugars for fermentation to ethanol. Sara.walton@umit.maine.edu

Download All Materials for Lesson #4 or the following sections:

LESSON OUTLINE--Directions for Teachers DOC PDF
Student Handout #1--Exploring Sugars DOC PDF
Student Handout #2--Fungus with a Sweet Tooth DOC PDF
Student Handout #3--Sara Walton Research Project DOC PDF
Student Handout #4--Maine Traditions DOC PDF
Student Handout #5--Graphic Organizer-Compare & Contrast DOC PDF
Student Handout #6--Graphic Organizer-Evidence DOC PDF
Student Handout #7--Synthesis-Maine's Sense of Place DOC PDF
Student Handout #8--Integrating A Biorefinery into a Pulp Mill DOC PDF
Lesson #4 Glossary List DOC PDF